RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Scores Winning Run on Fielding Error as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Blue Jays.

Following a historic Wednesday night in which they saw their win total reach 100 for the first time since 1946, the Red Sox went into Thursday looking to complete the series sweep in their last game against the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

Making his 22nd start of the year on Thursday, Eduardo Rodriguez looked much better than he did in his last time out against the Houston Astros, an outing in which he surrendered five earned runs in less than four innings.

Pitching six full frames in this one, the left-hander allowed just one Toronto run to cross the plate while scattering five hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

That lone run came in the top half of the third inning, when with two outs and a runner at second, Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak grounded an RBI single up the middle to drive in Lourdes Gurriel.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Rodriguez bounced back after that by retiring 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced, including a four pitch strikeout of Randal Grichuk with two outs in the sixth, to wrap up his evening on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final efficient pitch count of 78 (52 strikes), the Venezuela native, who was caught by Christian Vazquez once again, had a more solid pitch mix than he did this past Saturday.

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Out of those 78 pitches, Rodriguez threw 17 changeups, 16 two-seam fastballs, 16 sliders, 16 four-seam fastballs, and 13 cutters, which resulted in a total of nine swinging strikes and 17 called strikes.

He also topped out at 93.9 MPH with both the two and four-seamer in the third and fifth innings.

Unable to pick up a well-deserved winning decision despite leaving with his team ahead, Rodriguez did manage to lower his ERA on the season down to 3.53 in his third start since returning from the disabled list.

He’ll look to build on this solid outing in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees sometime next week.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final three innings of Thursday night’s contest with a two run lead to protect.

Ryan Brasier was first up for the seventh inning, and he retired the only three hitters he faced in order. That was fine, but what happened in the eighth was not.

Bobby Poyner, who has seemingly been paving his way for a spot on any postseason roster with his performance as of late, made one mistake pitch to Lourdes Gurriel, who hit his eighth home run of the season to make it just a one-run game.

The left-hander did manage to record the first two outs of the frame along with that homer, and Joe Kelly was next up after him.

Kelly, who had already surrendered runs in two appearances this month alone, could not record the inning-ending out.

Instead, he loaded the bases on one walk, one single, and one HBP before allowing the tying run to cross the plate on another HBP.

Out of the 15 pitches Kelly threw on Thursday, only FIVE of them went for strikes.

Brandon Workman would have to enter this one with two outs and a Blue Jay on every base, but he was able to escape the jam by fanning Billy McKinney on three straight strikes.

After the Red Sox retook the lead at 4-3 in their half of the eighth inning, it was Craig Kimbrel’s time to shut the door on Toronto for the final time in 2018.

Making his second appearance in as many days, the flame throwing closer needed just eight pitches to retire the side in order, earning his 40th save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio, who only allowed one run in 3.1 innings pitched in his last start against Boston on July 14th.

For the second consecutive night, the bats were not all there, but they really didn’t need to be thanks to a pair of home runs.

That first homer came in the bottom of the second, when JD Martinez took a swing at a 2-2 83 MPH slider on the outer half of the plate and sent it 397 feet into the Red Sox bullpen.

Home run number 41 for Martinez had an exit velocity of 105.5 MPH.

An inning later, a Jackie Bradley Jr. leadoff double would later result in the team’s second run of the night after Ian Kinsler drove him in on a one out sacrifice fly to left field.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth now, and Rafael Devers, who entered the game as a pinch runner for Eduardo Nunez in the fourth, absolutely crushed his 17th big fly of the season off of Mark Leiter.

According to Statcast, that ball was hit 394 feet and had an exit velocity of over 109 MPH.

In all honesty, that probably should have been the final nail in the coffin for the Blue Jays, but they pulled their way back into this thing, for a few minutes anyway.

Moments after Toronto evened this contest up at three runs a piece in the top half of the eighth inning, Xander Bogaerts responded right away by ripping a one out double off of Danny Barnes to put the go-ahead run in scoring position.

After a successful attempt of stealing third base, Bogaerts would come into score on what appeared to be a routine pop fly off the bat of Blake Swihart.

Instead, Jays second baseman Yangervis Solarte had trouble locating the ball during its descent, and it ended up clanking off his glove and dropping to the ground.

No RBI credited to Swihart there, but it was still good enough to get the job done.

For the second straight night, the game-wining run for Boston has been scored without recoding an RBI.

Some notes from this 4-3 win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox (101-46) have won each of their last 4 games. They have a 10.5-game lead over the Yankees, tied for their largest of the season. This is only the 2nd season in which they have been as many as 55 games above .500 (also 1912).

In 10 games this month, Jackie Bradley Jr. owns a .915 OPS.

JD Martinez and Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics are currently tied in the league lead for home runs with 41 a piece.

The Red Sox finish their season series against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 15-4 record. Their magic number to clinch the American League East is down to six games.

Eduardo Nunez is day-to-day with soreness in his right knee.

Winners of four straight, the Red Sox welcome the New York Mets into town for the first time since 2009 for a three-game weekend series.

Getting the start in the series opener for each side will be RHP Hector Velazquez for Boston and RHP Noah Syndergaard for New York.

In one career start against the Red Sox, which came back in 2015, Syndergaard surrendered four earned runs on six hits and one walk in 6.2 innings pitched. He did not factor into the decision.

Velazquez, on the other hand, has never faced the Mets in his career, but he does own a 4.26 ERA over seven appearances (one start) in interleague play this season.

UPDATE: Velazquez is out, RHP William Cuevas is in.

First pitch of the first game of the series is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Friday.

 

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RECAP: David Price Twirls Another Gem as #RedSox Reach 100 Wins for First Time Since 1946.

The last time the Red Sox won 100 games in a single season, there were 16 teams team in Major League Baseball, the Braves played in Boston, the Giants played in New York, and the Dodgers played in Brooklyn.

Obviously, a lot has happened since then, but seeing the baseball team you grew up watching and still watch on a daily basis do something they have not done in over 70 years, that is something else.

How did the Red Sox reach this historic milestone? Well, David Price can take most of the responsibility for that.

Making his 28th start of the season on Wednesday, the left-hander picked up on where he left off in what has been a great second half of the 2018 season with another dominant performance.

Pitching seven scoreless innings in this one, Price scattered just three hits and no walks to go along with seven punch outs on the night.

After sitting down the first 13 batters he faced, the Tennessee native did give up those three hits, all of which were singles, over those final three frames of work, but the furthest base a Blue Jays hitter reached was second following a passed ball.

With his pitch count inching closer and closer to 100 in that seventh inning, Price dramatically ended his night on a positive note by fanning Teoscar Hernandez for the third and final out.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (63 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball a total of 33 times on Wednesday. He topped out at 94.5 MPH with that same pitch in the seventh inning.

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More notable, out of the 31 changeups he threw, Price induced a swing and a miss 32% of the time.

Improving to 15-6 with a 3.42 ERA on the season now, the 2012 Cy Young Award winner will look to build on what’s been a superb start to September in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees at dreaded Yankee Stadium sometime next week.

In relief of Price, Steven Wright got the call for the top half of the eighth inning with a slim one-run lead to protect.

Despite allowing the first two hitters he faced to reach base, the knuckleballer danced his way around the jam on his way to a scoreless frame.

Craig Kimbrel was next up for the ninth looking to lock down the save, and did just that, although he did walk one and only throw 10 strikes out of 20 total pitches.

Regardless, 39th save of the season for Kimbrel secured, but more importantly, win number 100 of the season for the Red Sox secured as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who entered Wednesday with a lifetime 4.35 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) at Fenway Park.

Similar to Price, a former teammate of his, Sanchez also had himself a quality night on the mound.

In fact, the only run that crossed the plate for the Red Sox came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when with two outs, runners at the corners, and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, a 2-2 wild pitch from Sanchez rolled to the backstop.

 

That allowed Rafael Devers to easily come in from third to score what would end up being the lone run of the entire contest for either side.

The Red Sox were held to just four hits, but they did draw five walks.

Some notes from this 1-0 win: 

In his last nine starts since the All-Star break, David Price is 5-0 with a 1.56 ERA, which is tops among qualified American League starting pitchers. His .188 batting average against over that span is also second best in the AL.

The Red Sox are 8-1 in Price’s last nine starts.

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox have won 100 games for the 1st time in 72 years, and for the 4th time in franchise history (105 in 1912, 104 in 1946, 101 in 1915).

Alex Cora is the 1st person to lead a team to 100+ wins in his 1st season as an MLB manager since Dusty Baker in 1993 (Giants, 103-59).

Going for win number 101 and the sweep later tonight, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez getting the start for Boston.

Since returning from the 10-day disabled list on September 1st, the young left-hander has surrendered six earned runs over nine total innings pitched, with five of those runs coming in his last time out against the Houston Astros.

In three outings against the Blue Jays this season, Rodriguez has posted a 2.41 ERA over 18.2 innings pitched.

Opposite Rodriguez will be RHP Sam Gaviglio for Toronto, who was only charged with one earned run over 3.1 innings in his last start at Fenway Park on July 14th, a game that Rodriguez also started in and the Red Sox won by a final score of 6-2.

First pitch of the final game against the Blue Jays this season is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Thursday.

RECAP: Brock Holt’s Seventh Inning Pinch-Hit Home Run Seals Comeback Win as #RedSox Clinch Postseason Berth.

Entering their half of the seventh inning trailing by two runs, the Red Sox lineup looked as if they were having a tough go at it against Blue Jays starter Ryan Borucki.

Borucki, a left-hander, had only given up a pair of hits up until that point in Tuesday night’s contest at Fenway Park, but the momentum started to shift after Xander Bogaerts drew a one out walk.

Trailing by two runs at the time, Steve Pearce cut that deficit in half right away by ripping a 102 MPH triple to center field to plate Bogaerts all the way from first.

Following a pitching change that saw RHP Ryan Tepera take over for Borucki and a substitution that saw Tzu-Wei Lin entering as a pinch-runner at third, Ian Kinsler could not drive in the tying-run, as he struck out on six pitches.

Eduardo Nunez drew a walk on four straight balls a few moments later, and that set up Brock Holt in a perfect scoring spot.

Pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon, Holt, not Mitch Moreland, took the first four pitches he saw, which evened the count at 2-2, then leaned into a 93 MPH sinker on the inner half of the plate and launched it 388 feet into the right field seats.

That three-run big fly, Holt’s fourth of the season, put his team up 4-2, which, along with RBI from Andrew Benintendi and Ian Kinsler, along with a run-scoring wild pitch in the eighth, is all they would need to pick up their 99th victory.

Some notes from this 7-2 win:

From @SoxNotes: Brock Holt is the first player in Red Sox history to hit multiple go-ahead pinch-hit home runs in a single season (August 14 at Philadelphia and tonight vs. Toronto) (source: ).

The Red Sox (99-46) have clinched a postseason berth. This will be the club’s 3rd consecutive postseason appearance, matching the longest streak in franchise history (also 2003-05 and 2007-09).

In 13 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter this season, Brock Holt is slashing .364/.462/1.192 with two home runs and five RBI.

Like the title reads, the Red Sox became the first team of the 2018 season to clinch a playoff berth on Tuesday night, and their magic number to clinch the American League East now stands at just nine games.

Going for win number 100 later tonight, it will be David Price getting the ball for Boston.

Since the All-Star break, the left-hander has posted a superb 1.78 ERA and .196 BAA over eight starts and 50.2 innings pitched. The Red Sox are 7-1 in those games.

Opposite Price will be Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits in five innings pitched in his last outing at Fenway Park on May 28th, a game the Red Sox won by a final score of 8-3.

First pitch of the middle game of the series is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Wednesday.

 

Chris Sale Tosses Scoreless Inning in First Start Since August 12th for #RedSox.

For the first time in nearly a month, Red Sox ace Chris Sale was back on the mound on Tuesday after being activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the afternoon.

Facing off against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of a three-game series at Fenway Park, the left-hander found himself under duress right away following a leadoff double off the bat of Lourdes Gurriel.

That was followed by two consecutive strikeouts of Devon Travis and Justin Smoak.

Sale did deal with some trouble again though when he hit Kendrys Morales to put runners on first and second with two outs.

Fortunately, the 29-year-old settled down, got Randal Grichuk to pop out to second, and retired the side without surrendering a run.

Now, the plan was for Sale to throw 40 pitches or go two innings deep into this start, whichever came first, per Alex Cora.

But, because of the fact he was put in a tough spot right from the get go, it’s understandable why the Florida native was limited to the one frame of work.

Instead of going back out for the second, Sale headed out to the Red Sox bullpen, threw about 22 pitches in a controlled environment, and called it a night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 26, 14 of which went for strikes, Sale threw his four-seam fastball 15 times, his slider 10 times, and his changeup just once, which resulted in seven total swings and misses.

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He also topped out at 97 MPH with his four-seamer on the very first pitch of the contest.

Although there were some control issues, it was encouraging to see Sale back out there for the first time this month. The rust shouldn’t last too long.

With his ERA dropping down to 1.96 on the season, the southpaw will look to ramp it up in his next time out, which should come against the New York Mets  back at Fenway this Sunday.

 

Chris Sale to Return from 10-Day Disabled List on Tuesday, Serve as “Opener” for #RedSox.

Chris Sale has not pitched in a major league game since August 12th, where he struck out 12 Orioles in five shutout innings of work on a total of just 68 pitches in Baltimore.

Since then, the left-hander has been on the 10-day disabled list with “mild left shoulder inflammation.”

In the past two months, Sale had made a total of five starts dating back to July 6th, but now he’s ready to return. That’s great.

Beginning this Tuesday, we will have the opportunity to see Sale pitch in a role similar to the one he had when he came up with the Chicago White Sox in 2010.

Over his first two big league seasons, the Florida native appeared in a total of 79 games as a reliever, where he posted a 2.59 ERA in 94.1 innings pitched to go along with 111 strikeouts before moving to Chicago’s starting rotation in 2012.

Now, Sale will not be coming out of the bullpen for the remainder of this 2018 season, but his workload will be limited for a while as an “opener.”

Like the above tweet states, the FGCU alum will pitch no more than two innings in his next “start” on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Five days later, an additional inning will be tacked on, and so on until he is back in the full swing of things.

After those two frames, Nathan Eovaldi will come out of the bullpen in relief of Sale, per Alex Cora.

So, there you have it. All of this may not be possible without Kevin Cash and what the Tampa Bay Rays have done with their pitching staff this season.

Also, Dustin Pedroia will miss the remainder of the 2018 season and Brandon Phillips took ground balls at first base on Friday.

First pitch of tonight’s game against the Houston Astros is scheduled for 7:10 PM.

RECAP: Mookie Betts Amazes with Cycle as #RedSox Drop Series Finale to Blue Jays.

Believe it or not, the Red Sox are not a perfect team. They are capable of losing games and that is exactly what happened Thursday night for the first time this month.

Coming off the game of his life in his last time out against the New York Yankees this past Friday, Rick Porcello made his 24th start of the season yesterday, and he found himself struggling against Toronto’s team yet again.

If you recall the last time Porcello faced the Blue Jays in the series before the All-Star break, then you’ll remember that he got absolutely lit up for eight runs in two innings pitched back on July 13th in an eventual loss.

Last night, it was more of the same for the right-hander. Not only was he matched up against the same pitcher as before in Toronto’s Ryan Borucki, Porcello surrendered SEVEN runs in only four-plus innings pitched in another losing effort.

Things went awry right away for the New Jersey native in this one, as he walked the very first two batters he faced, which later resulted in two Blue Jays runs crossing the plate in the first.

An inning later, another leadoff walk and a single off the bat of Aledmys Diaz put runners at first and third for the Jays with no outs and Kevin Pillar at the plate.

On the first pitch of his at bat, Pillar grounded into what looked to have the potential of a force out at second. The run was scoring no matter what, but an E5 from Eduardo Nunez prevented a single out from being recorded and runners were safe at first and second with still no outs.

Nothing more came of that in the second, but Teoscar Hernandez, as he is known to do, blasted a solo homer off of Porcello in the third to pull his team ahead by two runs. He now has hit eight home runs in 20 career games against the Red Sox.

After what was without a doubt his best inning of the night in the fourth, a 1-2-3 effort, Porcello got hit hard again in his final frame, a frame that was capped off by a go-ahead three-run home run from Randal Grichuk, the last batter Porcello faced before getting the rather quick hook.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (54 strikes) and his team trailing by three runs at the time of his departure, Porcello relied on his curveball nearly one-third of the time he was on the mound Thursday. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball on his 13th pitch of the game.

How one goes from pitching a complete game in one outing to struggling mightily in the next is something I don’t think I will ever understand. If you’re frustrated by Porcello’s lack of consistency though, just keep these numbers in mind.

The 29-year-old will look to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season in his next time out against the Phillies in Philadelphia on either Tuesday or Wednesday, probably Tuesday.

In relief of Porcello, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he retired three of the only four batters he faced to clean up the mess made in the fifth.

Hector Velazquez was next up for both the sixth and seventh innings, and he allowed a lone Blue Jays run to score on back-to-back hits from Curtis Granderson and Devon Travis in the sixth while tossing a scoreless seventh.

And in the eighth, Tyler Thornburg worked his away around a pair of two out singles to strike out the side and give his team one last chance in the ninth trailing by four runs.

On the other side of things, as I had mentioned above, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a pitcher they had already familiarized themselves with in Toronto’s Ryan Borucki.

Similar to Porcello, Borucki, 24, in his rookie season, has been solid as a starter for the Blue Jays against teams not named the Red Sox.

He gave up seven runs, four of which were earned, in three innings pitched on July 13th at Fenway Park, and despite picking up the win on Thursday, Borucki was not much better.

Like Porcello, Borucki too allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base on back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi.

Four batters and one Xander Bogaerts walk later, Eduardo Nunez came through in a bases loades situation by ripping a two-run single to right field to drive in Betts and Benintendi. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a quick two run lead and it looked like it was going to be another one of this high scoring nights.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out to be, because the Blue Jays answered right back with two runs of their own in their half of the first, and jumped out to a 4-2 lead by the time Boston tacked on their next run in the fifth.

That run, a one out solo home run off the bat of JD Martinez, was good for his 35th of the season and had an exit velocity of 108 MPH. 4-3 game.

A Brock Holt RBI single later in the inning that scored Eduardo Nunez from second knotted this thing up at four runs a piece, but a three-run rally from the Blue Jays in the bottom half of the fifth essentially put this contest out of reach for the Red Sox.

Thanks to Mookie Betts though, headlines would still be made in Boston’s favor despite their first loss in over a week.

Going into the ninth with a single, a double, and a triple already under his belt, Betts had one last chance to go for history with Ken Giles on the mound for Toronto.

As I wrote yesterday, Betts got ahead in the count at 3-1, fouled off a 96.5 MPH fastball that was right down broadway, and capitalized on the very next pitch, a 85.6 MPH slider from Giles located at the top of the strike zone, by sending it 379 feet into the left field seats. First career cycle completed.

That homer, Betts’ 27th, put Boston’s fifth and final run of the night on the board, but it really meant so much more.

The 21st cycle in Red Sox history and first since Brock Holt did it back during the 2015 season, Mookie Betts should 100% be the favorite to win American League MVP right now. Not Mike Trout, not Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts.

Some notes from this one:

With a 1/4 night at the plate on Thursday, JD Martinez is currently riding an eight-game hittins streak. Over that span, Martinez is slashing .438/.514/.906 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

In seven games and 28 at bats this month, Mookie Betts owns a 1.500 OPS to go along with seven extra base hits.

Wrapping up the first leg of their road trip with a series win, the Red Sox head to Baltimore to take on a lowly Orioles team in a four-game weekend series.

Getting the start in the opener will be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who has yet to surrender a run in two starts and 15 innings pitched with his new club.

Opposite Eovaldi will be Baltimore’s ace Dylan Bundy, who has pitched well against the Red Sox in three starts this season. Last time Bundy faced them on June 11th, he held Boston scoreless in eight innings of work in a game the Red Sox eventually won in extras.

The Orioles have traded off most of their assets in Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Kevin Gausman, so I totally expect the Red Sox to have full control of this series. Chris Sale will also make his return to the rotation on Sunday.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Friday.

BREAKING: Mookie Betts Hits for Cycle in Toronto.

Although they may have lost their first game in over a week on Thursday night, the Red Sox certainly made headlines in Toronto thanks to Mookie Betts.

Entering the night with the highest batting average in baseball at .340, it looked as though Boston’s leadoff man was on a mission against Ryan Borucki and the rest of the Blue Jays pitching staff.

Leading off the contest with a simple single, Betts would go on to get the hardest hit out of the way with a hard hit triple just out of Kevin Pillar’s reach in center field an inning later.

After doubling in the fourth and drawing a walk in the sixth, it would all come down to the final frame for the Tennessee native to get the job done.

Facing off against Toronto closer Ken Giles with one out in the ninth, Betts got ahead in the count at 3-1, fouled off a 96.5 MPH fastball right down the middle, which clearly ticked him off and pulled the count to 3-2.

Fortunately, Mookie made an adjustment and made Giles pay for the next pitch he threw, an 86 MPH slider at the top of the zone that the three-time All-Star sent 379 feet to left field to secure the cycle.

The 21st and first cycle from a Red Sox player since Brock Holt accomplished the feat on June 16th, 2015 against the Atlanta Braves, more than three years ago.

On the season now, Betts owns a .347 batting average to go along with 27 home runs and a 1.102 OPS and is pulling closer and closer to becoming the clear cut favorite to win American League MVP.

Full recap of Thursday night’s 8-5 loss is coming tomorrow.